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Redskins Practice report, Day 19: Williams and Amerson return

Redskins Practice report, Day 19: Williams and Amerson return

RICHMOND—The Redskins got together for their final day of practice in front of the fans here (there will be a closed practice tomorrow). Here are my observations.

—OT Trent Williams was back to a full workload. So was CB David Amerson, who participated in individual drills on Saturday. Still out for the Redskins were TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), WR DeSean Jackson (shoulder), and WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring).

—TE Ernst Brun, who tried out after the morning walkthrough and signed before the afternoon practice, was out on the field for individual drills. He made a nifty one-handed catch during one of the sessions.

—There was a bit of comedy during the first part of full team work. Someone on the offensive line jumped early and the play was not run. As the offense went back to the huddle, S Duke Ihenacho picked up the ball and marched off the five-yard penalty. That put the ball right in the middle of the offensive huddle.

—The defensive coaches are fanatics about players chasing after any loose ball that is on the ground. A pass was overthrown and DB coach Perry Fewell yelled “Ball, ball, ball!” as the football skittered along in the grass. The idea is that players shouldn’t be referees. No harm can come from scooping up a loose football and you never know when a call might go your way.

—RB Matt Jones has played with an attitude ever since he arrived in Ashburn. Maybe some of it is rubbing off on RB Alfred Morris. No question, Morris has been a tough, hard runner ever since he came to town in 2012. But he seems to be developing a bit more of an edge, some feistiness he didn’t have before.

Robert Griffin III has not thrown many interceptions this summer but he had two during one red zone seven-on-seven series. One of them wasn’t his fault. His pass to Trey Williams was on the mark but the ball bounced out of the running back’s hands and was picked off by S Dashon Goldson. The second one was deflected by CB Justin Rogers and picked off by, again, Goldson. Griffin finally got the offense into the end zone with a pass to Jones, who found a soft spot in the defense just over the goal line.

—Before yesterday I had never seen a practice start in pads and end without them but the Redskins took off their full shoulder pads about an hour and a half into practice, about the same time they on Saturday. It’s not a bad idea for a team that is somewhat banged up but I’ve covered plenty of limping Redskins teams and I’ve never seen a practice conducted like that.

—After the pads came off, Griffin dropped back to pass. He had to step up in the pocket and he may have been sacked before he threw to WR Pierre Garçon on a deep crossing pattern. The pass was wobbly but Garçon made a nice catch for a good gain. A couple of plays later ILB Keenan Robinson got a hand on a Griffin pass from out of the pocket but WR Rashad Ross adjusted and made the catch.

—Later on with the second team offense on the field, RB Chris Thompson took a handoff on a draw and popped up the middle for a touchdown on third and goal at the five. He is quietly putting a lock on the third-down back job. It was his to lose coming into camp and he has done nothing to lose it.

—On a third and one from about the 40, Griffin couldn’t handle the snap, recovered, rolled out, and overthrew WR Andre Roberts in the end zone. Jay Gruden seemed to be particularly disappointed by this play. He had his hands on his knees and stared at the ground for several seconds after it was over.

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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

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Week 7 Redskins-Eagles Preview: Monday night means more than it usually does

After five straight defeats, the Eagles decided enough was enough and beat the Redskins on their home field in Week 1. In a bizarre turn of scheduling, Washington will face Philadelphia for the second time this season before playing any other NFC East opponent. 

For the Redskins, that means the time for a win is now. Behind the arm of Carson Wentz, the Eagles have streaked out to a 5-1 record, not to mention 2-0 in the division. Jay Gruden's squad sits at 3-2 and 0-1 in the division. Another loss to the Eagles, even though it's still early in the year, would put a major dent in the Redskins hopes of a NFC East title. 

"It’s a big game. The NFC East, they’re in the lead. They’re 5-1 and we’re 3-2. I mean, just do the math," Gruden explained this week. "If you look at 3-3 and 6-1 and we’ve lost twice to them, that’s a big difference. 4-2 and 5-2 and we’re right there in the thick of things as far as the NFC East is concerned."

MORE: TEN TIMES PHILADELPHIA FANS WERE THE WORST

The coach knows the stakes. Redskins fans certainly do, too. All the coverage starts at 7:30 on NBC Sports Washington with Redskins Kickoff, and here are three storylines to watch for the game:

  1. Blount force - In the Week 1 loss to Philadelphia, the Redskins defense did a fine job of stopping the Eagles rush attack. Zach Brown and the 'Skins held Philly to just 58 yards rushing. In that game, LeGarrette Blount rushed 14 times for only 46 yards, averaging less than 3.5 yards-per-carry. Well, Blount and the Eagles run game looks mighty different now. In their last four games, Blount is averaging more than 6 yards-per-carry and posted more than 330 yards. Known for his strength between the tackles, Blount will present a problem for the Burgundy and Gold playing their first game without rookie star defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. The challenge will be real, and D-coordinator Greg Manusky knows it: "He does a great job of making people miss at the hole, in the hole. So we have got to make sure we get in his face and be able to get him down. He is a big-body guy." 
  2. No wiggle room - For the most part, the Redskins defense did a solid job against Carson Wentz in the first matchup against the Eagles. Unfortunately, with a mobile QB like the 6-foot-5, 240 lb. Wentz, a few broken plays can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of the game. Think back to early in Week 1, the Redskins forced Wentz from the pocket and as he scrambled, he kept his eyes downfield and connected with WR Nelson Agholor for a long touchdown. On that play, two different 'Skins defenders nearly brought Wentz down in the backfield. But they didn't. And the 'Skins secondary did a good job in coverage for more than eight seconds. In that ninth second, however, Wentz struck. He's been doing it each game since, as he's emerged as an NFL MVP candidate with more than 1,300 pass yards to go with 13 TDs against just 3 INTs through six games. His ability to escape trouble must be incredibly frustrating for defenders, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson explained his passer's skill, saying, "He is strong in the pocket and usually the first guy, an arm-tackle guy, can’t bring him down. He usually sheds that block and can escape."
  3. 8 or more - Throughout the 2016 season, the Redskins frustrated their fans by getting out to slow starts. In 2017, the opposite has been true. In four straight games, Kirk Cousins and the 'Skins offense have scored a first quarter touchdown and taken early leads. In the second half, however, the offense has stagnated. While the Redskins average about 23 points-per-game, the team is only scoring about 8 points-per-game in the second half. Against a Philly team capable of scoring every time they touch the ball, Washington will likely have to score more in the second half to get a victory.

News & Notes

  • This will mark the Redskins 70th game on Monday Night Football, and their ninth MNF matchup against Philadelphia.
  • Kirk Cousins enters the game 3rd in NFL history in completion percentage (65.9) among players with at least 1,500 career attempts.
  • With 100 yards receiving, Chris Thompson could break a tie with Dick James, Craig McEwen and Larry Brown (two each) for the most career 100-yard receiving games by a Redskins running back in records dating back to 1960.
  • A win would snap a four game losing streak on Monday Night Football for the Redskins and give the Redskins their first Monday win since a 20-17 overtime win at Dallas on Oct. 27, 2014.
  • The Redskins rank first in the NFL and the NFC in fewest penalty yards (204).

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Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Can Brandon Scherff do something that no Redskins O-lineman has done since 1991?

Those who doubted the wisdom of the Redskins drafting a guard with the fifth overall pick in 2015 (yes, I was one of them) should be preparing to eat their words.

On draft day and during the two and a half years since then, there has been plenty of talk that the Redskins would regret taking Brandon Scherff, who played tackle in college but seemed destined to play guard in the NFL, so early. Not that anyone thought that Scherff would be a bad NFL player but given that they left DL Leonard Williams and edge rusher Vic Beasley on the board, he needed to develop into an All-Pro caliber guard to justify such a high pick.

Well, don’t look now but Scherff is making his way towards becoming one of the best guards in the game. Not just Pro Bowl good; he checked that box last year. Scherff could become the first Redskins position player to be named a first-team All-Pro since Darrell Green and Jim Lachey earned the honors in 1991.

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Asked about Scherff’s play this year, Jay Gruden was effusive in his praise.

He’s reacting. He’s anticipating. He’s pulling. He’s pass-blocking. He’s run-blocking. He’s double teaming. He’s doing everything you want him to do out in screens, out in space. He’s the best guard out in space by far in this league. It’s fun to watch him.

You can listen to Gruden’s full comments on Scherff in the video above.

Gruden is not exactly an unbiased observer. But other, more neutral analysts also have been heaping praise on Scherff.

An article on Pro Football Focus said that Scherff had an “elite” game against the 49ers, not allowing any pass rush pressures and dominating as a run blocker.

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Two other analysts clipped some plays from the 49ers game to illustrate just how well he was playing.

This one from Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network shows one play, the 49-yard screen pass to Chris Thompson on which Scherff threw a key block.

I’m not sure what the scouting credentials Brandon Thorn has but he did put together a nice collection of clips of Scherff making quality blocks both in space and in the interior vs. the 49ers.

Will Scherff earn All-Pro honors? That could depend on how well the team does. While the All-Pro teams are supposed to be individual honors, it’s tough for an offensive lineman to get many votes if he’s not on a winning team, especially one like Scherff who would be trying to break into the club for the first time.

But the Redskins are not really worried about All-Pro votes. If he keeps playing the way he’s playing and he gets no such consideration it will be fine with them.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.